Calibration of an Artificial Neural Network for Predicting Development in Montgomery County, Virginia: 1992-2001

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Virginia Tech


This study evaluates the effectiveness of an artificial neural network (ANN) to predict locations of urban change at a countywide level by testing various calibrations of the Land Transformation Model (LTM). It utilizes the Stuttgart Neural Network Simulator (SNNS), a common medium through which ANNs run a back-propagation algorithm, to execute neural net training.

This research explores the dynamics of socioeconomic and biophysical variables (derived from the 1990 Comprehensive Plan) and how they affect model calibration for Montgomery County, Virginia. Using NLCD Retrofit Land Use data for 1992 and 2001 as base layers for urban change, we assess the sensitivity of the model with policy-influenced variables from data layers representing road accessibility, proximity to urban lands, distance from urban expansion areas, slopes, and soils. Aerial imagery from 1991 and 2002 was used to visually assess changes at site-specific locations.

Results show a percent correct metric (PCM) of 32.843% and a Kappa value of 0.319. A relative operating characteristic (ROC) value of 0.660 showed that the model predicted locations of change better than chance (0.50). It performs consistently when compared to PCMs from a logistic regression model, 31.752%, and LTMs run in the absence of each driving variable ranging 27.971% – 33.494%. These figures are similar to results from other land use and land cover change (LUCC) studies sharing comparable landscape characteristics. Prediction maps resulting from LTM forecasts driven by the six variables tested provide a satisfactory means for forecasting change inside of dense urban areas and urban fringes for countywide urban planning.



Urban, Montgomery County, Modeling, Land Use, Artificial Neural Network